As we head into truffle season, a few facts on and ways to experience the cream of the crop
- The white truffle is considered the most fragrant, the tastiest and the most expensive compared to the black winter truffle (September through March) and the black summer truffle (May through September). Quoted prices for truffles vary widely, but some estimate the black truffle at $800 per pound and the white truffle at $2,000 or more per pound.
- October through December is white truffle season. And as LA truffle expert Michael Pietroiacavo says, “This is the season that everyone is waiting for. Everyone waits for the white truffle.”
- Myth: Most truffles are unearthed by pigs. Today dogs are considered the best truffle hunters because they are easier to train, have more stamina and are less likely to eat the prize. And no one wants to wrestle a truffle from a 300-pound pig.
- A truffle is a fungus—and a prized delicacy. The homely lumps grow underground near tree roots that support their growth. Though many regions—including Oregon—now cultivate truffles, the traditional cream of the crop hails from Italy and France.
- One very large white truffle from Tuscany is thought to be the most expensive on record. The 3.3-pound truffle was purchased in 2010 for $330,000 by Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho.
- Michael Pietroiacovo and Marco Pietroiacovo are The Truffle Brothers, Inc. Originally from Campobasso, Italy, the brothers supply LA’s finer restaurants with Italian tartufo. Their large extended family (and 18 dogs) forage for truffles in the Appenino Mountains around Molise.
- Here in the Valley, the Pietroiacovo brothers do most of their business with sushi houses, though their clientele also includes Italian restaurants and California cuisine. One client, Studio City’s Asanebo, formerly served black truffle ice cream. Look for the ubiquitous truffle mac ‘n’ cheese this time of year; Lemonade makes a popular white truffle version.
5 LOCAL RESTAURANTS THAT CELEBRATE THE TRUFFLE
|Firefly in Studio City tops a New York steak with porcini mushrooms, pistachios and Burgundy summer truffle (a black variety). Truffles also turn up in fondue, espuma and ricotta gnocchi.
|The truffle burger at Umami Burger in Studio City is a triple threat. It features truffled aioli, house truffle cheese and truffle glaze.
|Izakaya M Robata
& Sushi Bar in Sherman Oaks offers a spicy tuna truffle oil pizza: sliced tuna on a tortilla base.
|Firenze Osteria Italian Restaurant in Toluca Lake serves a hefty 14-ounce pork chop with truffled gnocchi (reopens in early 2016 post reno).
|At both lunch and dinner, one of the most popular dishes at Bleecker Street in Tarzana is the truffle fries. Piping hot, the fries are infused with white truffle oil then sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese.